Best of 2011: International Releases

>> Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I spend so much time focused on the Northwest music scene, because, lets face it, it kills right now, that I often have to remind myself that there is a whole world of music out there. There are worthy sounds comings from all walks of life. from exotic countries like Sweden and Canada.
So, with that said, here is a collection of the 15 best Albums and EP's released internationally in 2011. I am sure I am missing some, and that I'm including some that you may not have heard of, but that is the great thing about a music blog. The omissions and introductions.

1. The Rural Alberta Advantage - Departing (Canada)
Quite possibly the best album of 2011, this Canadian three piece band has blown my year apart with this slow burn of a record. Released early in the year, most records would have faded over time, but, not The RAA, The RAA has a record with abnormal staying power. I'll still listen to this ten years from now.

"Coldest Days" by The Rural Alberta Advantage. 

2. Slow Club - Paradise with Bonus Disc (England)
I was 100% certain that this record would end up as my #1 of the year. So certain that I wrote about it before it was even released. And it's not as though its a bad record, it's not. It's a fantastic album. It's well written. well sung, and a near masterpiece. It's just not as life changing as their 2009 release, Yeah, So was for me. Not that I should have expected, but I hoped.

"You, Earth, Or Ash" by Slow Club

3. The Oh Wells - Songs That We Love EP/Not The Girl From Transformers EP (Canada)
Two 5 song EP's totaling 7 songs. Sounds a bit confusing huh? Not really. First came the Songs That We Love EP. Then some member changes, and a new Transformers EP with a couple new songs. It's a win for the listener for sure. I first found The Oh Wells back in February or March, and I wrote this on the blog...

Canada does good! I know as a Washingtonian it is my right and duty to make fun of all things Canadian, but I cannot muster the enthusiasm when it comes to this lovely band. I was unable to attend this years Sound Off! music competition. So, I had my own little contest. I picked up the EP of each of the four finalists (Northern Departure, Fit For Hounds, Tomten, and The Oh Wells), and although all were good, and Tomten officially won, if I had a vote, it would go to this quirky ensemble. Yes, they have a bit of Regina Spektor in them with some She and Him mixed in, but they truly stand on their own. With sharp hooks and biting quirk they have worked out their own niche.
"Out Of Love" by The Oh Wells (From the Transformers EP)

4. The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar (Wales)
Simply put. Ritzy is a full blooded rockstar. Like their is no question. For this album review, I am going to let the clip below speak for me.

"Cradle" by The Joy Formidable. 

5. Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes (Sweden)
Ok. Lykke Li is an enigma. Sometimes she is pop. Sometimes she is rock. Sometimes she is soft. Sometimes she is brash. But she always works. And this record is out of control good.

"I Know Places" by Lykke Li

6. Adele - 21 (England)
This is someone I doubt you've heard of. Just a little singer-songwriter from England that I predict pretty big things from a few years down the line. Right now she is still struggling to make a name for herself. But if she keeps putting out records like this one, she'll make it. On a more serious note, I think someone needs to cover "Rolling In The Deep" as I am not sure that's been done enough yet.

"He Won't Go" by Adele

7. Summer Camp - Welcome To Condale (England)
This is a high concept record. It's about a fake town in California and all their fake residents. It takes living vicariously to a whole other level. With her sweet lullaby voice, and his gritty styling, this group is like no other out there right now, except maybe, Slow Club.

"I Want You" by Summer Camp

8. Yuck - Yuck (England)
Garage rock for the indie sect. And I say that with very little disdain. If this album was not so well made and absolutely great, I would do my best to rebel against it and it's hipster cache, but.... arg. It's so good.

"The Wall" by Yuck

9. Los Campesinos! - Hello Sadness (Wales)
I wish this band would not have come out of the gate so strongly. Their debut record Hold On Now, Youngster... blew the top of my head off. I still listen to it on a regular basis and it is easily one of my favorite records of all time. But since then, nothing they do, lives up to what I hope it will be. However, this record comes damn close. 

"By Your Hand" by Los Campesinos!

10. James Vincent McMorrow - Early In The Morning (Ireland)
On those rainy days. On those days where you are tucked in and just wishing the day away. it's James Vincent McMorrow that will lead you there. Again. I am going to let the music do the talking.

"Hear The Noise That Moves So Soft And Slow" by James Vincent McMorrow

11. Kim Churchill - Turns To Stone EP (Australia)
I just wrote a Band of the Week about this kid. Just click here and listen to catch up.

"The Battle Of Mr. Shibuya" by Kim Churchill

12. Angus & Julia Stone - Down The Way & Big Jet Plane EP (Australia)
I thought they were English!. Ha. Either way, they are an amazing brother and sister duo that have soft love just flowing out of their every note. Heart meet platter.

"Yellow Brick Road" by Angus & Julia Stone

13. Ellie Goulding - Lights (England)
I have never been much of a mover.  I have never been much of a shaker. But when Ellie Goulding comes on, I can't help but break it down some.

"Human" by Ellie Goulding

14. Oh Land - Oh Land (Denmark)
Oh Land brings another form of bad dancing out of me. It is like a hiccup with rythem that I can't stop. But my God. its fantastic.

"We Turn It Up"

15. The Boom Booms - Hot Rum! (Canada)
The Boom Booms I found on accident via a YouTube clip from The Oh Wells Vlog. So, being who I am, willing to buy any album for any reason, I picked them up. And I am not disappointed at all. Their song "Falling Rain" below is one of my favorites of the year.

"Falling Rain" by The Boom Booms


Anonymous,  December 11, 2011 at 9:55 AM  

Wow, just went on an epic youtube journey to The Boom Booms. These guys are killer.

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